Kevin S Larimore
Supervised readings and group discussion. Prerequisite: minimum grade of 2.0 in either BIOL 350, BIOL 354, BIOL 355, BIOL 356, BIOC 405, BIOC 406, BIOC 440, BIOC 441, or BIOC 442.
The ability of our immune system to fight off the constant threat of infection is critical to our survival. But how does our body’s security system work? How does it identify ‘evildoers’, why is it important not to overreact to them, and how is ‘friendly fire’ avoided? This seminar course will explore the mechanisms regulating the protective immune response to foreign pathogens and how vaccines elicit this protection, as well as the mechanisms pathogens employ to evade our sophisticated defenses. We will also investigate the consequences of uncontrolled immune responses in promoting disease pathogenesis. Students should be prepared to interact in groups, present to the class, and read and discuss current scientific literature on these topics.
Student learning goals
Students will become familiar with how the basic cellular components of the immune system respond to pathogens, and how vaccines can provide immunity from infection.
Students will learn how some pathogens are able to avoid immune defenses and cause disease.
Students will learn the importance of immune regulation, and how uncontrolled immune responses can cause disease.
Students will be able to read, understand, and critically evaluate primary research articles from scientific journals.
Students will develop skills for oral presentation of scientific material.
Students will actively participate in group discussions of current topics related to the immune system in health and disease.
General method of instruction
This is an interactive discussion-based class. Please come ready to ask and answer questions. Students will be asked to summarize and critique article conclusions, explain data figures from research articles, and participate in group discussions.
Class assignments and grading
Assigned readings will include journal articles and articles from the popular press. Online warm-up exercises on the readings and the topic of the week will be assigned, to be completed online before each class. Students work in groups on final projects to be presented at the end of the course.
Grading will be based on participation in class discussions, completion of weekly warm-up exercises, final project presentation, and participation in online extra credit activities.